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Growing Your Career in the Red-Hot IT Health Field
“Expert Interview with Carol LeMaster”
By Debbie Christofferson, CISSP, CISM

"Health care accounts for nearly a third of the '50 Best Jobs in America'."
-"By Tara Kalwarski, Daphne Mosher, Janet Paskin and Donna Rosato, 042506, Money Magazine

Job opportunities in computers and healthcare will abound over the next decade, and many will offer high pay and satisfaction, according to Money Magazine. Information Technology (IT) is playing a key part.

Medical records going online, privacy regulations, and an aging population are all driving growth. IT and security are enablers.

Carol LeMaster is sharing her insights today, as an IT Recruiter and career expert in IT health care.

Debbie: What are the benefits of working in healthcare IT?

Carol: The market for IT professionals with healthcare experience is booming and IT is enjoying resurgence.

Some of this is attributed to Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans. Hurricane victims needed emergency care, but their medical records were wiped out. Everyone started from scratch, and some results proved disastrous.

The US is also trailing other industrialized nations in interoperability and Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Hospitals, clinics, and physicians offices are upgrading their IT systems. There are many obstacles to overcome, in implementing new technology to support this.

Debbie: What are the best opportunities?

Carol: Nearly every hospital and clinic in the nation is involved in implementing major software packages and underlying hardware. These will integrate hospital departments with each other.

Several major hospital systems exist across the U.S. Each one will be implementing technologies that grant full patient access to their medical records, for any hospital system they choose. This will allow doctors' access to a patient's medical record at any system entry, or for any hospital in the United States or in the world.

Problems also exist, in coaxing physicians' offices to adopt new technology, in implementing new systems, and in dealing with patient privacy.

Debbie: What skills and experience are needed?

Carol: IT professionals are needed to fill the huge talent demand. Ideal candidates will have:

  • Experience working in hospital or healthcare settings
  • Degrees or certifications in healthcare
  • People who know the workflows in an operating room, emergency room, or billing process
  • Experience working in a hospital or medical setting, who have experienced and participated in a major upgrade. E.g.: A nurse might be involved in a technical upgrade, by assisting the IT department in designing workflows, training other medical staff in using the new system, and setting up computer screens with patient information.

Debbie: How can a new person enter the field?

Carol: You need an IT background, or a medical background and a desire to move into the IT field. If you have both, and you're great with people, you're set. Consulting opportunities are abundant for those who enjoy travel and variety. Growth to executive positions, and many other career choices exist.

Debbie: What final advice would you offer to those considering an IT career in healthcare?

Carol: The goal in this field is to become as paperless as possible. Patient information is entered into an EMR created at the bedside. This eliminates errors in misreading someone's handwriting, and reduces the chances of losing or misplacing a chart.

A doctor can review a patient's record from home, and order new tests or medications immediately. If a medication conflicts with something the patient is already taking, a red flag will appear. The new technologies enhance patient safety.

It's fascinating to see just how much technology is available and how much it will improve our lives. It's an exciting time to be involved in this historical process.


Conclusion and Call to Action

"...The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has said that health information technology and technology management will be among the fastest growing occupations through 2012."
--"AHIMA launches new web site for students", by Richard Pizzi, Healthcare IT News, 6/15/07

Make healthcare as your IT career of choice.

Carol can be reached for questions or for coaching in the medical technology field at cslemaster@aol.com

NEXT MONTH: "Entrepreneur 101: Successfully starting and running a profitable business"

Debbie shares 20 years of Fortune 500 management experience across the US, Europe and Asia. She consults, speaks and writes on security, technology and career growth strategies.

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